Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Baptisms, Visitors, and General Conference

Our area of the mission has been blessed with baptisms

recently.  We missed the baptisms of Rob, Elihu and Sean on September 5th due to Jim's eye surgery.  We were recently able to attend the baptism of Aimee and Belle.  Then one night we had Elihu to dinner with Elder's Ord and Wadsworth.  It was great to hear this young man's conversion story.  He just walked into the First Ward's sacrament meeting one Sunday during the middle of September.  I noticed him sitting at the back of the chapel all alone and I asked him if he was visiting with someone.  He said "no".  I asked if he knew anyone there and he again said "no".  I quickly summoned some of the elders to get to know him.  Then last night we heard the rest of his story.  He attended many different churches over the years and even recently converted to Islam. But he still felt that something was missing.  He was just searching for the right thing when he looked up the Mormon church and decided to attend that Sunday morning.  After he heard about the restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon, he commited to baptism on the first lesson.  Three weeks later he was baptized. He is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and studying to be a criminal attorney.  He attends the YSA (Young Single Adult) ward in our church building and he is really an asset there.  It was wonderful to get to know him better last night.

Elder Davis, Aimee, Elder Whitney
Aimee is also a single adult who was in an accident at one time and now must use a wheelchair most of the time.  She has been studying with the elders for many months---almost as long as we have been here. We attended lessons with the elders in her home several times.  She had many misgivings for awhile, but she was just radiant and had the biggest smile when she announced in Relief Society one Sunday that she had decided to get baptized.

Belle is a single mom raising a young son.  Janelle, Luke, and Heidi were here visiting on the night of her baptism and they were all able to attend her baptism with us.  The
Elder Davis, Belle, Elder Whitney
Relief Society room was filled with people at the baptism and her comment to us was that she couldn't believe they had all come to support her.  We told her that she is really part of a great big family now!

The visit of Janelle, Luke and Heidi only lasted for a few days, but we were able to fit a lot into those days.  We spent time at the Carnegie Science Center, a day in Kirkland, the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, and a ride on the riverboat.  They were also able to  attend our weekly district meeting with the elders.  Janelle attended the whole meeting which Jim taught to two districts. They all heard everyone's weekly "highlights" and then during the lesson portion

Luke, Heidi, & I walked to the Natural History Museum where they had a wonderful time.  Jim's lesson was one he has taught many times at home and now many times here.  It is a lesson about implementing the atonement of the Savior in our lives to improve our relationships and bring us peace and comfort as we navigate through the challenges of life.  He has come up with a little chart that illustrates what he is talking about really well.  It seems like some of the principles that he teaches all begin to fit together for most people who hear it.  He really enjoyed having Janelle be there to be part of the lesson.  Jim has taught the lesson to the MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) and at various other times.

President and Sister Johnson have been very encouraging and supportive of senior couples having their family members come to visit.  Their comment to us was that each of our children and grandchildren are really our most important "investigators" in the gospel.  They feel that having them spend time around missionary life is a wonderful teaching opportunity.  When Heidi was asked what her favorite part of the trip was she said "meeting the elders".

Our fun family visitors left Pittsburgh Saturday morning and flew home to enjoy the rest of conference in Salt Lake.  We spent the day Saturday watching conference in our apartment and then
Jim attended Priesthood meeting that evening with the elders at church.  On Sunday we had 8 elders to watch the afternoon session with us and have dinner.  Two more elders (our zone leaders) showed up for dessert afterwards.  Tuesday is transfer meeting so it was a fun way to get together before all the changes go into effect.  Elder Whitney is going home and Elder Johnson is being transferred, so we will have two new elders to get to know soon.

General Conference was amazing.  It was hard to pick a favorite talk.  The teachings about the Sabbath Day as a sign between God and man and also the many references to dealing with adversity in life especially resonated with us at this time.  Hearing from the three new apostles, Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund was also a highlight.

We can hardly wait to have time to read, listen to, and try to digest the printed talks. Before you know it we will spend our last General Conference here in April!

We also attended the transfer meeting in Greentree on October 6th.  Megan sadly said goodbye to her companion, Sister Sears.  Megan will stay in Butler with a new companion, Sister Bills, and Sister Sears will be quite far away in Hanover, PA.  We feel that we got quite close to Sister Sears and so it was hard for all of us to make this change.  We are learning all about making lots of changes on our mission--but not nearly as many as the young elders and sisters have to make.

Anyway....change is good...we will keep telling ourselves that!

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